Titans get back on track by routing Miami
Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012 7:00 pm
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Fading to pass, Jake Locker tripped and went sprawling 10 yards behind the line, rose quickly and scrambled for a 20-yard gain.
In the same way he salvaged the broken play, Locker and the Tennessee Titans saved their season Sunday, combining efficient offense with ball-hawking defense to beat the Miami Dolphins 37-3.
Tennessee (4-6) rebounded from a 51-20 defeat a week ago against the Bears that prompted owner Bud Adams to put the organization on notice.
“It went bad for us last Sunday, and we stuck together,” coach Mike Munchak said. “It was exciting to see how we responded in a tough spot.”
The Titans came into the game on pace to set an NFL record for points allowed in a season, but their defense outscored Miami.
Colin McCarthy returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown, and Tennessee came up with four takeaways that led to 20 points.
Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions for the Dolphins, who endured their most lopsided loss at home since 1968, and their worst anywhere since January 2000.
“Total embarrassment,” linebacker Kevin Burnett said.
Two benchings by coach Joe Philbin failed to shake the Dolphins (4-5) out of their malaise.
Reggie Bush spent most of the first half on the sideline after his early fumble, and guard Richie Incognito sat briefly after committing a costly personal foul penalty.
“A dumb mistake on my part,” Incognito said.
“If I’m a coach, I would have benched myself too,” Bush said.
With 20 minutes left and the stands two-thirds empty, the only remaining drama was whether Chris Johnson would become the first rusher to gain 100 yards against Miami in the past 23 games.
He reached the mark late in the third period and finished with 126 yards on 23 carries, including a 17-yard touchdown run.
“Everybody wanted me to have 100 yards against them,” Johnson said. “It was really a best-man-win-type scenario.”
Tannehill’s six-week streak without an interception ended at 107 passes when Akeem Ayers deflected a throw to McCarthy, who sprinted along the sideline to score for a 21-0 lead. McCarthy had just returned to the game after he aggravated a lingering ankle injury.
“I just needed to settle down a little bit,” he said. “I got turned a little bit. I just had to take a couple plays off, but I got back in there.”
Tannehill went 23 for 39, but had a passer rating of only 42.4. What did the rookie learn?
“Don’t throw it to the other team,” Philbin said. “I hate to be a smart aleck.”
Locker, back after missing five games with a dislocated non-throwing shoulder, went only 9-of-21 for 122 yards but threw for touchdowns of 9 yards to Kendall Wright and 26 yards to Jared Cook. Locker also ran for three first downs and helped Tennessee convert nine of 18 third- and fourth-down situations.
“That’s why we’re excited about him,” Munchak said. “He made some plays a lot of quarterbacks couldn’t make.”
The Titans didn’t commit a turnover after totaling five a week ago, while they had an interception from each starting linebacker — McCarthy, Ayers and Zach Brown.
“That was fun to see,” Munchak said.
The Titans’ turnaround came as they head into their bye week. The Dolphins play Thursday at Buffalo.
“We’ve got to get back to work very quickly,” Bush said.
“We don’t have time to sulk.”
NOTES: Tennessee’s Rob Bironas set a franchise record for most consecutive extra points without a miss, breaking Al Del Greco’s mark. Bironas has made 232 in a row. … The loss was the worst at home for the Dolphins since they were beaten in their third season 48-3 by Kansas City. … The Titans trimmed their defensive scoring average from 34.2 points per game to 31.1. They’re no longer on an NFL-record pace. … Miami’s Brian Hartline made eight receptions and has a career-high 49 this season.
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Published in The Messenger 11.12.12